1st grade CPS teacher dies due to COVID-19 related symptoms

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Family members are mourning the loss of a Chicago Public School teacher who died from COVID-19.

Olga Quiroga left her house only eight times since the start of the pandemic.

She did what she could to stay safe, but Quiroga's daughters, Giovanna Quiroga and Gladys Quiroga Watts, believe her last outing exposed her to COVID-19.

In early September, Quiroga, a bilingual teacher at Funston Elementary went to the school to meet her students before the start of E-learning.

"I said 'Why are you going in? Why are you going to talk to everyone?' And she said, 'Because I have to. I have to hand out packets and supplies for the student and their families,'" Giovanna Quiroga said.

Within days, Quiroga was sick with cold-like symptoms and was taken to the hospital on September 11.

Her health kept getting worse over three weeks.

"The day before she passed was her birthday. Her 58th birthday. And that's when the doctors gave us a call and told us we didn't have much time," Watts said.

Watts, the oldest daughter lives in Texas, and jumped on a plane the morning after the hospital called. She went straight to the hospital where the family reunited by Quiroga's side.

"They allowed us to go in her room. Fully suited, mask, gloves everything like the nurses were, and we were able to spend her last moments. We were there when she took her last breath," Watts said.

Her daughter say her death is still surreal and that Quiroga was a hard worker who cleaned houses when she and her husband first came to Chicago from Mexico.

She later became an educator.

Alderman Byron Sigcho -Lopez remembered her wanting to help low-income students.

"It just showed the dedication that her and many other teachers have for students and we need to protect them," he said.

"We're just heartbroken. There's this pain in our chest that just doesn't go away," Watts said.

Quiroga's funeral will take place Saturday.

Her daughters don't want their mother's death to be in vain, and said they hope it inspires everyone to take COVID-19 more seriously.

On Monday, the Chicago Teachers Union discussed some challenges members face when they continue to work in buildings during the pandemic.

Despite a sweeping ruling from an arbitrator Friday that CPS has not adequately provided safe working conditions, the District ignored Union attempts to bargain over conditions over the weekend, as the arbitrator had ordered.

CTU clerks and officers called on Mayor Lightfoot and CPS to obey the arbitrator's ruling and bargain with the CTU over safe working conditions.

The CTU is also pushing for better resources to facilitate remote learning.
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